Bali still has many developmental challenges despite recent progress, Governor I Made Mangku Pastika said during his end-of-year address.
“We still have many unresolved problems,” he said.
According to the governor, poverty remains a key issue in many areas despite Bali’s rapid economic growth.
“There are 10,000 families who are living in uninhabitable houses across the island. There are still a sizable portion of unemployed individuals, scores of students dropped out of schools, a high illiteracy rate and the island’s infrastructure could be seriously improved,” he said.
According to government statistics a total of 166,200 people in Bali are living below the poverty line, with a total of 1315 children dropping out of school for economic reasons, most in the poor eastern regency of Karangasem, which has seen little benefit from tourism.
Across the island 12.29 percent of people below the age of 15 are illiterate, with illiteracy in the 15-44 age range at 3.87 percent.
However, official data shows that the poverty rate in Bali has dropped by 22.9 percent since 2008, when Pastika took office.
“In 2011, we recorded many improvements. Through various government programmes, we managed to reduce poverty, unemployment and maternal and infant mortality rates,” Pastika said, adding that more work was needed.
“These improvements should not give us reason to be complacent. Instead, they should spur us to do more in the future.”
Pastika said that programmes including the free healthcare scheme for registered Bali residents, the assistance for renovating houses owned by poor families and scholarship schemes for poor students were helping alleviate poverty, while environmental schemes were improving the condition of the island.
“The Bali Clean and Green programme has succeeded in improving the island’s environmental quality index. Bali now ranks first in Indonesia based on the index. Yet we must be aware that we have to find solutions for our garbage, flood and critical land problems,” he said.